WMWP: Conversations from the Digital Margins

This is the digital annotation workshop for WMWP’s Best Practices. While this is here for participants in the workshop itself, anyone else who might be visiting (hello to you) is free to explore and join us, too. Although, the first part — where we write on paper — might prove trickier for you than for us.

Links/Resource List:

Peace (in the piece),
Kevin

Getting Ready for Annotation Workshop

Big Article for Annotation Workshop

Tomorrow, I am leading a workshop at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project about digital annotation (and a second one about Write Out and place-based learning). My frame is to have them first work with the text on their own, with pen and notes in the margins of their copies of paper; and then together as a workshop group, marking up the text with sticky notes; and then online with the world, using Hypothesis to make connections with the text and others.

I took the Christensen article we will be using — a powerful piece about critical literacy and paying attention to students by Linda Christensen — and blew it up into poster-sized pages. For the second phase of the workshop — annotating as a small group — we will use these over-sized pages and sticky notes. The article was part of a Writing Our Civic Futures activity last year.

You will be able to see the slideshow for the workshop here tomorrow, since I am going to embed it for participants to use for links and such.

Peace (writing on the walls),
Kevin

 

What Does Project-Based Learning Mean to You?

What Comes to Mind with PBL?

I’m working with some teachers in my school district, exploring Project-Based Learning. In a gathering, we used Answer Garden to gather a bit about what comes to mind when we think of PBL (which is rather new for all of us). How about you? What comes to mind when you think of Project-Based Learning? I’ll share these responses with my colleagues.

Use the embed (just add your response) or go to the site.

Peace (and appreciation),
Kevin

Exploring the Project-Based Learning Experience

I faciliated the first of a few PLC sessions with colleagues across my school district yesterday afternoon during a full PD day, with our focus on the theme of Project-Based Learning. I’ve been reading A.J. Juliana’s useful book on PBL (The PBL Playbook) , which we are getting copies of for everyone in my small group.

I pulled out a small PBL simulation project idea from his pages for today’s workshop as a way to walk us through the possibilities of PBL. The idea is to use the Global Goals for Sustainable Development resource site to choose a topic, explore that topic, discover information and action, and share out.

I was hoping the teachers might enjoy the simulation process, and would view it as a learning experience as both student and teacher.  They did enjoy it, expressing appreciation for the small-scale (about 45 minutes) version of something that loosely follows the overall flow of a PBL venture. They worked in small teams on this.

We used Google Slides for our work, since it is part our PLC networked space. (AJ suggests making a Public Service video on mobile devices, too. I like that, but didn’t want to overwhelm my colleagues. And they liked having some experience in Slides and Classroom)

I did a sample presentation on the Hunger Zero concept (above), so that I could experience what my colleagues will experience (who are thinking of what their students might experience in a PBL classroom), and to work through any problems.

Peace (an ongoing project),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Thanking the Colleague Who Taught Them Before You

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I try, as often as I can, to acknowledge the efforts that my fifth grade colleague in the grade below me does with my current students, as I often see evidence of her handiwork when they become sixth graders. I’d like to think our schools would be a better place if we did this kind of acknowledgement more often. None of us teach in a vacuum. None of our students learn in a vacuum, either. We all build upon what has happened before.

The other day, I sent my colleague (C.S.) this note (B. is our special education colleague):

Dear C. (colleague),
I am starting to look over some of the first literature-based open responses with evidence from text and they are a solid batch (with a few outliers). I am noticing a pretty strong understanding of the format, with students working to find and cite evidence, and the use of the T Chart organizer. As much as I say “we are building on what Mrs. S did with you,” they are just as likely to say “this is like what Mrs. S taught us last year.”
🙂
I am grateful for the work you do, C., as it sets the stage for sixth grade (as I hope the work I do will set the stage for seventh grade). Our earlier collaborations and discussions around open response writing (with B. as a bridge between us) is definitely making a difference.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Kevin

Peace (acknowledged and appreciated),
Kevin

At WMWP: Instruments in a Common Band

WMWP Best Practices Overview

The small group planning the two main conferences for our Western Massachusetts Writing Project this year have decided to have an overarching theme of the entire year. Which I think is a fantastic idea — the theme is the thread to connect our work.

Even better is the theme they chose: Instruments in a Common Band. The tagline is: Voice, Identity and Respectful Dialogue. Perfect, right?

Not just metaphorically, which works for me as a musician, but also with the intent of encouraging the consideration of different voices and identity and discussion in the field of teaching and writing. Our first weekend conference is coming up, and the sessions and the keynote address reflect this theme rather nicely.

The “common band” phrasing has stuck with me, too. How we are all making music together, metaphorically — sometimes in harmony; sometimes, with cacophony; sometimes in rhythm; sometimes, not. Our obligation is not just to make noise but to make music. Not just as teachers, but as learners. As citizens.

And the theme certainly dovetails nicely with our WMWP Mission Statement.

Peace (sung from the band of the Common),
Kevin

PS — if you are in Western Massachusetts, there is still time to register for our Best Practices in the Teaching of Writing on Saturday, October 13.

How Can We Tell If We Are Biased, If We Already Are Biased?

On Bias

I believe we all come to any table with a boatload of bias, and anyone who tells you different is either being dishonest or has their head in the sand. Surfacing bias is difficult — it shows our own weakness and makes us vulnerable to criticism. Add the online echo chamber effect to this — where the disparate voices can quickly turn from support to tear-down mode — and you have a difficult conversation.

The World You Never Knew

I’m starting to look at bias through some TED talks. Here are a few that are catching my attention for further viewing. Some are related to our use of technology, and how it amplifies or confirms our bias, and then narrows our experiences, and others are more general in nature about bias and human nature:

And

And

And

Peace (biased but not broken),
Kevin